Authors: A. D. Ellis
Present day, Torey Hope
Pensive brown eyes stared back at him as he regarded himself in the mirror. Part of him felt ready for this next step, another part of him wanted to keep plodding along, keeping his secret, hiding. He was so tired of hiding, but staying hidden brought him comfort. He was tired of secrets, but those secrets were his shield.
If he followed through with his plan, he would no longer be shielded, no longer able to protect himself and others from the truth. And that scared the fuck out of him. If he did this, he opened himself and his family up to ridicule, shame, embarrassment; the family business, The Center+, could suffer.
But, if he didn’t do this, he knew he’d sink back into the black hole he’d been in until recently. One person had known his secret for years, but that didn’t save him from the derogatory names thrown at him in the halls and locker room when his brothers or cousins weren’t around.
“Come on, man up, Morgan. The guys took it fine, Mom and Dad were supportive; it’s time to let the rest of the family in on your secret.” He smiled as he recalled the conversations he’d had not long ago with his twin brother and cousins. He’d assembled them all on a camping trip and broke the news, years after he should have opened up to them.
His brother, Decker, had taken the news fairly well. He’d needed a solo walk through the woods to gather his thoughts; Sawyer suspected his always-in-control, serious, black and white brother also needed to come to grips with the fact that he’d never suspected his brother’s sexual preference was different than his own. How ironic that the one person Sawyer was the closest to in the whole world was the one person who was the most clueless.
Sawyer had held his breath practically the whole time Decker had been walking through the woods. A deluge of rain poured down as the dark sky broke open, yet Sawyer still sat alone at the campfire. His head had started playing tricks on him.
You disgust him…he can’t stand the thought of having a gay brother…you’ve lost him…he’s not coming back.
But Sawyer held out hope that Decker was just doing his usual thinking things through.
He had breathed a sigh of relief when Decker emerged, soaking wet, from the woods. Walking towards him with purpose, his twin had stopped in front of him and spoke the most heartwarming, sincere words Sawyer had ever heard from him.
“You’re my brother, always have been, always will be. I wish you could have told me sooner, but nothing has changed between us. I’ll be there in any and every way that I can.” Decker grabbed Sawyer and pulled him into a deep embrace, communicating his love and acceptance through his touch
Telling his cousins, Zach and Kendrick, had been less emotional, and a lot more entertaining. Sawyer had to laugh at the questions his admission had stirred up.
“I’m gay.” Two words that held such power. Would they laugh? Would they walk away in disgust? Would they be angry?
Zach smiled and nodded. “I think I’ve known that for a long time, man, but thanks for telling me.”
“Wait, you knew? Why didn’t you ever say something? Why did you joke with me about girls?”
“I don’t know, I guess I figured you’d tell me when you were ready. I didn’t want to bring it up if I was wrong and it offended you. I think I joked about girls thinking it would give you the opportunity to bring it up if you wanted to.” Zach stood and walked to his cousin, reaching a hand down, he pulled the other man up into a hug. “Nothing changes, I’ve got your back, man.”
Kendrick sat with his hand rubbing his chin. Would he be the one who couldn’t accept it?
Eyes twinkling and a shit-eatin’ grin on his face, he finally spoke. “What’s it like to suck cock?”
The other three burst out laughing.
“Come on, I’m serious. Maybe I’m ‘bi-curious,’ who knows. I know I like burying myself deep in a girl, the tighter the better; I’m assuming being deep in a guy’s ass has to feel pretty much like heaven on earth, right?”
Sawyer felt like he was having an out-of-body experience as he attempted to shake off his utter shock and awe at his cousin’s words.
“Um, yeah, it’s pretty close to heaven.”
“See, I’ve always thought guys would probably suck cock better than girls; just like a girl could probably eat pussy better than most guys. Why? Well, as a guy, I know exactly what feels good, just like a girl knows exactly what feels good. I don’t know if I’d ever actually do it, but I’d likely consider doing a guy; I don’t know if I could let a guy fuck me though.”
Kendrick paused in his musings and glanced at his cousins’ open-mouthed expressions. “What? It’s just stuff I’ve thought about before. Don’t get me wrong, I love women, but being with a guy intrigues me a bit.”
And with that, all the worries Sawyer had about telling his cousins he was gay floated off into the night air.
Later that night, they had settled in to their sleeping bags, relaxed and happy from the many beers they had consumed.
“So, really, what’s it like?” Decker asked into the darkness.
“What? Sex with a guy?” Sawyer smiled as he spoke, finding it amusing that his brother and cousins were so interested.
“Yeah, man. I don’t see myself or Zach ever sleeping with a guy; Kendrick, maybe. But, what’s it like? How’s it work?” At the snorts of laughter, Decker huffed, “I know how it works, I just wonder if it’s that different from being with a girl.”
“For me, it’s different because it feels right. Being with girls felt wrong, awkward, strange. Being with a guy makes my heart flutter, my skin tingle, and my body grow warm.” Sawyer began to get lost in thought, but he pulled himself back to the group.
“Kissing. Kissing is awesome. Soft lips, slick tongue, roaming hands, a little hair pulling, kissing is perfect.” He closed his eyes and pictured the soft lips of a man who made his heart flutter.
Kendrick rolled to his back and propped his head on his bent elbows behind his head. “What about sex?”
“Depends on the person you’re with and what you’re both comfortable with. Oral, anal, jacking each other off, like I said, it just depends.”
“Are you the one on top or the one on bottom?” Kendrick asked.
“Again, it depends. Some guys will only do top, some will only do bottom, some like to take turns. Some couples don’t do anal, only oral and mutual masturbation. It’s very much like sex with a woman, you have preferences; guys just have different options.”
“Does it feel good? Top or bottom, does it feel good either way?” Zach cocked his head to the side and waited.
“If the guy is big, it can hurt at first; if he’s rougher, it can be painful.”
“Alright, enough gay sex talk tonight, boys. I’m beat.” Kendrick laughed at his own words. “Can you imagine the earful someone would have gotten if they’d been outside the windows tonight?”
They all chuckled.
“Guys, thanks so much for being okay with this,” Sawyer said. “Your reactions wouldn’t have changed who I am, but it’s good to know that I have you on my side.”
His mouth curved into another soft smile as he replayed the conversation they’d had. He knew that not all people got such acceptance from family and friends when they came out; he was lucky his brother and cousins had taken it in stride.
Shortly thereafter, knowing he owed it to his parents and to himself to be honest after so many years of hiding, he had sat at the kitchen table with Decker there for support, and told his mom and dad his secret.
His mom, Libby, had cried, but quickly dried her tears and smiled at him.
“Momma, why don’t you look shocked? Dad, why aren’t you surprised?” Sawyer had expected more of a reaction from them.
“Oh, baby boy, we’ve known for a while. Well, I wouldn’t say we’ve known, but we’ve suspected for about 10-12 years now.” Libby’s smile was shaky, but she didn’t appear devastated.
“Why didn’t you say anything?” Sawyer questioned.
“Your mom brought it up to me several years ago. I think in the beginning we both hoped she was wrong, we didn’t want you to have to suffer through the emotions and reactions. Then, when we were more sure about it, we talked and decided it was something you needed to come to on your own and all we could do was be here loving you until you were ready to talk to us.” His dad, Nate, stood and walked to his son. “I love you no matter what. I don’t like the idea of you being hurt or ridiculed, but nothing will ever change the fact that you’re my son and I love you.”
Libby sniffled and hugged Sawyer into her arms. “You’ll always be my baby boy and I will love you until my dying breath. I hate that not everyone in your life and in this town will be as open about your sexuality, but you’ve got us on your side, no matter what.”
He was two-for-two in the coming out department. Would his luck hold when he told the rest of his family? Eyeing his reflection in the mirror again, he sighed and leaned his hands on the bathroom counter. Apprehension bubbled inside mixing with fear and excitement. Telling the rest of his family held so much uncertainty. Knowing the numbers just weren’t on his side, he knew in his heart he’d face objection and possible rejection from at least one, if not more, of his family members. Who would it be? Who would look at him with disgust or hatred?
Recently, years longer than it should have taken him, and as a promise kept to his college friend, he had admitted he was depressed and had started seeing a therapist. Dr. Parks specialized in counseling lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered patients. He had made Sawyer comb through memories, some that Sawyer would have rather kept buried. He detested the pain and hurt that came from sifting through the memories and feelings, but with the pain and hurt came realization that hiding and keeping secrets wasn’t fair to himself or those around him.
He wanted to be free from it all. Admitting it only to Dr. Parks, there were times when he waffled between “freeing” himself by coming out to all the people in his life and living as an openly gay man, and “freeing” himself from the pain and heaviness of the burden by just ending it all. Dr. Parks made him talk more about that than he really wanted to.
“You’re scared of rejection from your family. You’re worried about causing them stress or embarrassment or shame. Speak to me about how you think they’d feel if you commit suicide.” Dr. Parks was always very direct, never sugarcoating anything.
“Doc, I’d never do it; sometimes it’s just nice to think about what a relief it would be if none of this existed for me anymore.” Sawyer had tried to avoid the question, but Dr. Parks hadn’t let it go.
“So, how do you think your family would feel if you committed suicide?” He never strayed from the path he was on.
Head hanging and words whispered straight from his heart, Sawyer spoke, “They’d be devastated.” Tears glistened in his eyes thinking of the pain his suicide would cause to those he loved.
“And, what would that devastation be like for them if they later found out you’re gay and you killed yourself rather than opening up to them?” Dr. Parks wasn’t trying to cause more pain, but the question hurt.
Drawing a deep breath and closing his eyes, Sawyer tried to imagine how distraught his family would be if they found out he’d taken his own life because he felt like he couldn’t be open with them. “It would absolutely destroy them.”
He knew with certainty that he had to open up to them. He wanted to rid himself of the weight of this secret, he wanted love and support to help him navigate what had already proved to be rough waters. He feared rejection, but he knew he already had his parents and brother and cousins on his side, so he didn’t fear absolute abandonment.
As he prepared to gather his family around to make his announcement, he allowed the past to play through his mind; his journey to this point had been filled with family and friends, but the confusion, heartache, and uncertainty were never far away.
Sawyer, age 16
The ball swooshed through the hoop as the four young men played a game of basketball on the courts outside The Center after school. The rule in their family was homework could come after some downtime and physical activity as long as grades didn’t falter.
“You going to the school dance this weekend?” Zach asked the question of all of his cousins.
“I wasn’t planning on it; those things are always just couples practically having sex on the dance floor or groups of guys standing around shootin’ the shit. I don’t have a girl to kiss and no way I’m dancing, so I figured I’d get homework done so I’d be free the rest of the weekend.” Decker dribbled around Sawyer and made an easy lay-up; he flashed a look of concern at his brother, knowing Sawyer was off his game.
“What about you, Kendrick? You’ve been in quite the funk since Jenny moved away; you going to the dance to find a new girl to make out with?” Zach laughed as his question threw Kendrick off long enough for his cousin to steal the ball from him and land a three-point shot.
“Fuck off, man. I don’t want to talk about Jenny, and I don’t need a dance to find girls to make out with.” Kendrick wiped sweat from his brow, then grabbed his bag. “I gotta head out, guys; Mom is expecting me home to eat supper. Later.” The slump of his shoulders and weariness in his voice as he walked off the court, gave away much more than his words.
Decker contemplated his cousin as he walked away. “What the hell is his problem lately? I know he and Jenny were pretty serious, and it sucks that she up and moved so suddenly, but he’s never been this upset over a girl before.”
“I don’t know, man, but I’m ready for him to pull his head out of his ass and get over his pissy attitude; he’s been a complete douche lately.” With the game obviously wrapping up since one of the players had left, Zach stood at the free-throw line bouncing the ball. “What about you, Sawyer? You and Katie going to the dance? You guys have all the fancy moves since you’ve been practicing for that dance competition; you two could totally rule the dance floor. Get her all hot and sweaty and worked up and then take her back home for some hot and heavy makin’ out.” Zach waggled his eyebrows at Sawyer, always the tease and jokester.
“Nah, Katie and I broke up. We’re just going to be friends.” Sawyer tried to come across as nonchalant. Truth was, he wasn’t hurting over losing Katie; they were great as best friends, even better than when they’d tried dating. His sadness and looming depression came from the war inside his head and heart.
He wanted to be honest with himself, his family, his friends. But, he wasn’t sure how everyone would react; he was more worried about the people around town causing issues for his parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and The Center.
Sawyer watched “normal” couples around school hold hands and kiss. He saw the love his parents shared; his entire family was one big happy love fest most of the time. His heart craved to find that, and his body longed for the physical touch of a man; instead, he hung out with Katie or his brother and cousins. It was safer this way, but it wasn’t the way he wanted to live.
Maybe once he got out of Torey Hope for a while, went to college, he could explore and experiment more freely. He felt like he was Sawyer Morgan on the outside, but it was just a façade. The real Sawyer was gay, but he was being hidden away. He longed for the courage to be himself.
Sawyer, age 17
“Hey man, what was up with that guy? It looked like he was itching to fight; everything okay?” Decker’s concern for him touched his heart and eased the pain from the ugly words he heard rattling in his brain.
“You gay little fag.”
“You really are a cocksucker.”
Aside from Katie and the few guys he’d messed around with over the past year, Sawyer had told no one about his sexuality. He knew Katie wasn’t talking, and the guys weren’t ready to out themselves as gay or even curious, so he figured they weren’t spreading rumors. But, the fact that he took Art, Theater, Music, and Choir classes in high school sort of attracted the local homophobic bullies to give him a rough time. He also participated in, and sometimes instructed, painting, pottery, dance, and acting classes at The Center in his free time. Close-minded, hateful people took that to mean it was open season on him.
Sawyer and Decker looked 100% exactly alike, but there was always something softer, more sensitive about Sawyer. Add that to the classes and hobbies he enjoyed, narrow-minded, fearful people were going to talk. Only two guys gave him a hard time at school; it wasn’t unbearable, but it was enough to wear on him some days.
“Sawyer? Was that guy giving you a rough time?” Decker pulled him from his thoughts. Decker didn’t know Sawyer’s secret, he was just always protective of his family.
Bringing himself back to the present, Sawyer shook his head and zipped up his bag. “Nah, man. Just a douche bag from one of my classes; he’s mad because I won’t give him my notes. He slept through most of the class and skipped it two days last week; expects me to just hand over my hard work because he screwed up. He’s not a friend, so I don’t feel like I owe him anything.”
Passionate, sensitive, Sawyer would give a friend or family member the shirt off his back with no questions asked; leery, pained, jaded Sawyer wouldn’t even give a second glance to someone who had hurt him or didn’t deserve his kindness.
“Hell no, man. Don’t give that dick anything.” Decker, the protector, the serious one, clapped him on the back, and they headed toward home.
“Sawyer, why don’t you invite a friend over for Taco Night? We haven’t seen many of your friends around lately.” His mother, Libby, kissed his cheek and hugged him.
His heart hurt; his head ached from holding back the tears he wanted to cry. “Sure Momma, I think I’ll ask Katie to come over if you’re okay with that.” Libby’s eyes stared sadly into his, as if she wanted to say more; he felt pulled to blurt out what had him so down and hurt, to tell her he was gay. Instead, he swallowed his pain again and called Katie.
She arrived long before Taco Night started at Grandma Cindy’s, so they holed up in Sawyer’s room. He knew Decker wouldn’t be home; he was working on a business plan mock-up and would be at the library until late.
“Sawyer, what’s wrong?” Katie pulled him into a warm embrace, and the tears he’d tried so valiantly to fight off began to fall. She let him cry on her shoulder for several moments, the dampness from the tears and his breath seeped through her shirt; she didn’t mind, her friend was hurting, and she wanted to take away his pain.
“Remember Josh? We’ve hooked up a couple times.” Sawyer’s traitorous body recalled the intimate moments he’d shared with Josh as recently as last week.
“Sawyer, I know I’ve said this enough times to fill an entire book, but
be careful. By careful, I mean protection first and always. I want you to be happy and satisfied and fulfilled, but I can’t stand the thought of you getting hurt if you aren’t protected; that means making him be protected too. This is a conversation I never thought I’d be having, but if you’re going to be intimate with guys, or girls for that matter,
protect yourself. I’ve read way too much about anal sex and oral anal sex; the diseases that can be spread are downright terrifying. Second, by
, I mean with your heart.” When Sawyer closed his eyes and sighed, Katie felt she’d hit a sore spot.
Rubbing her hands up and down his arms, she spoke softly. “Sawyer, I know you want love and acceptance and to find the same happiness your whole family seems to have, but you’ve got to be careful who you give your heart to. First, you’re
; very few people find their happily ever after in high school. Maybe you’ll find your happy-for-now, but don’t get so down on yourself if you’ve not found
yet; you’ve got so much time ahead of you for that. Second, I know you like Josh, but I feel like you just like him because he’s willing to get physical with you. It’s no secret I don’t trust the guy. Neither of you are ready to go public yet, but I worry he’s the type who would out you to save his own reputation or string you along, like a friend with benefits, while he fucks the popular girls to cover the fact that he likes dick.”
Sawyer had to smile at how worked up Katie got when she talked about the topic. It wasn’t the first time she’d voiced her concern about Josh; she really didn’t trust him.
“Well, Katie-girl, I guess you can say ‘I told you so’ because Josh screwed me over today. The last time we were together, we talked about maybe making things a little more official between us; not coming out as a couple, but exclusively, albeit secretly, seeing each other.” Sawyer laughed bitterly, “Well, I guess
talked about that.” He got a faraway look in his eyes as he recalled their most recent night together.
“Bend over the arm of the couch.” Josh smacked Sawyer’s ass, and walked to get the lube from the drawer. Josh’s parents were out as usual, so they had the house to themselves. Josh wasn’t a sensitive or caring lover; were any 17-year-old boys all that attuned to their partner’s pleasure? Sawyer longed to be the top occasionally, and had voiced his desire often.
“Fuck that shit, man. I’m not gay, I’m not taking it up the ass.” Josh answered the same way every time the subject was broached. Sawyer enjoyed the physical act, the intimacy; he wanted so badly for a real relationship to develop, so he let it go. He gave his body to Josh and wished for more.
“Spread your legs, Morgan.” Dribbling the lube along his ass, Josh rubbed a finger around Sawyer’s hole. Josh wasn’t into foreplay, a few stretching movements with his finger was all Sawyer knew he’d get.
The first time they’d been together, Sawyer had convinced him to use a toy to prepare him. After a moment, Josh had ripped the toy out of Sawyer’s ass, covered and lubed up, lined himself up and entered him with as much finesse as a rhino walking the runway. Sawyer had seen stars from the pain, but he was able to relax and enjoy the act eventually. Josh was too busy ramming into his ass, so Sawyer had jacked himself off, coming at the same time as Josh. It had been hot and sweaty and satisfying, but it hadn’t been love. Maybe that would come?
Snapping out of his memory, Sawyer spread his legs and leaned farther over the arm of the couch. Reaching down, taking himself into his own hand, knowing he’d need to do his own work if he was going to get off, he groaned as the cool, wet liquid ran down his ass. Josh’s hands spread his cheeks; using both thumbs, he massaged the hole and entered briefly.
Sawyer rocked his hips backwards, hoping to prolong the foreplay; he longed for the kisses and caresses they’d shared when they had first discovered their mutual attraction. He felt himself stiffen as he recalled the afternoons they’d jacked off together, both of their hands grasping their cocks as they rubbed together.
But now that Josh had consummated their relationship, they seldom made out or did anything else. Josh would call him, tell him he wanted to fuck him, and Sawyer would go running. In his mind, he convinced himself that Josh wanted him, they would eventually fall in love.
Releasing the breath he found he was holding, Sawyer bore down against Josh’s advancing invasion. His body reacted; quickly tightening against the width of Josh’s erection, then relaxing to allow him more entrance. Sawyer loved the moments when Josh entered him; he would grasp his hips and whisper in Sawyer’s ear.
“God, yeah…Morgan, you’re so fucking tight. Ahh, the way your ass grips my cock. Mmm, I love fucking your ass.” Those moments were few and far between; Josh didn’t whisper sweet nothings, he didn’t compliment Sawyer, he never made mention of what they did together. Sawyer reveled in hearing his words during the few short moments it took him to reach his orgasm.
As they cleaned up, Sawyer brought up a subject he’d been contemplating for a while. “Listen, I know neither of us is ready to go public with our relationship, but I wondered how you’d feel about making this exclusive, just us, no dating others.”
In later moments, Sawyer would recognize the look of disgust and panic on Josh’s face for what it was, but in that moment of vulnerability, he took it as nervousness on Josh’s part. “I don’t want to date anyone else, and I’d like it if you were only doing this with me.”
Josh nodded, “Sure, sure man. That sounds good. Listen, I’ll call you; my parents said they might come home early tonight, so you better split.”
Sawyer paused in his deep recollections; rubbing his fingers roughly along his temples, he let his hands dig into his short, dark hair and grip fistfuls; the pulling pain helped to quiet the hurt in his heart.
“I was so stupid, Katie. I got to school today and found him kissing Amber, the head cheerleader. He didn’t even look my way; I heard through the grapevine that they are an official couple now.” Sawyer hung his head, trying to ward off the frustration, anger, and pain.
“He finally texted me this afternoon.
Sawyer, I’m not gay, please don’t hit on me anymore. You’re making me uncomfortable.”
Sawyer laughed bitterly. “I guess that’s his way of threatening me not to mention what we were doing together to anyone. I wonder if he’ll keep booty calling me and expect me to just come running?”